Wellsville, Ohio is a village in Columbiana County, Ohio, United States, along the Ohio River. It is in Yellow Creek Township, Columbiana County, Ohio. Wellsville was founded about 1795 and grew in the 19th and early 20th centuries. In 1838 the population was 759. By 1900 the U.S. Census showed the population at 6,146. In 1920 the city peaked at 8,849 according to the Census. Since then, each census shows the population declining. The population was 3,541 at the 2010 census.
In 1770, George Washington with his friend and personal surveyor, William Crawford (soldier), embarked on a journey down the Ohio River from Pittsburgh for the purpose of viewing lands to be apportioned among soldiers who had served in the French and Indian War. They are reported to have surveyed the Wellsville area (just north of the Yellow Creek) in 1770 and noted in his journal that it was good bottom land.
The Yellow Creek Massacre occurred near Wellsville in 1774. A group of Virginian settlers killed the relatives of a prominent Indian leader, Logan, who was camped on Yellow Creek. Logan took revenge, resulting in Lord Dunmore's War.
James Clark and William Wells first settled in the area in 1795. Although they had to leave for a while due to Indian attacks in the area, they returned between 1797 and 1800. Wellsville was founded in 1797 by William Wells, a Pennsylvanian, and former justice of the Territory Northwest of the River Ohio. Wellsville's first school and church were also established before 1800. A barn built in 1807 by the Aten family was moved to Hale Farm and Village in Bath, Ohio.
In the 1820s the first Methodist Episcopal Church was organized by Rev. John Callahan in the house of William Wells. This is supposed to be the first Methodist Episcopal Church organized in the State of Ohio. Shortly thereafter, Well's son, Joseph Wells, founded the Wellsville's Central Methodist Church.
The town of Wellsville finally took shape around 1823 when William Wells recorded that lots had been laid out for planned settlement. The initial site was bounded by the current Third and Fifth Streets, between Riverside Avenue and Commerce Street (although at the time they had different names.)
In 1836, a foundry was opened at Wellsville to make steamboat machinery. It later became known as the Stevenson Company and produced brick-making machinery. Now it is a Fabrication and Machine Shop whose major function is building all types of Processing Equipment for the Ceramic, Porcelain Enamel (Frit Grinding), Paint, and Chemical Manufacturing Industries.
Wellsville was incorporated as a village in 1848.
In 1852 the Cleveland & Pittsburgh Railroad (later acquired by the Pennsylvania Railroad) built a track from Hanover, Ohio to Wellsville and in 1856 it built a track from Wellsville to Rochester, Pennsylvania.
On February 14, 1861 Abraham Lincoln, on his way to his first inauguration, spoke to a large gathering in front of the Whitakre House, a hotel, in Wellsville.
On July 26, 1863 the Confederate Stares Army General officer John Hunt Morgan and several hundred of his soldiers surrendered to pursuing Union forces and were held in Wellsville before being shipped to the Ohio Penitentiary at Columbus, Ohio. Gen. Morgan was put up at the Whitaker House, a hotel in Wellsville. The men were treated more like criminals than prisoners of war at the Ohio Penitentiary. Morgan's raid was the northernmost advance of Confederate troops during the Civil War.
At this time Ohio State Route 45 (on the eastern border of Wellsville) was known as the Warren-Ashtabula Turnpike which ran from Wellsville, Ohio, to Ashtabula, Ohio. It was an important part of the Underground Railroad.
During the 1896 presidential campaign Democratic candidate William Jennings Bryan addressed a crowd in Wellsville, Ohio from the back of a train. Bryan was the first candidate to successfully embrace "whistle stop" campaigning, harnessing the power of a young rail network to reach masses of voters.
In 1951, his only year of varsity basketball at Wellsville, Clarence Bevo Francis scored 776 points in 25 games for an average of nearly 32 point per game. In the process, he led his team to a stunning 19-1 regular season record and a berth in the state playoffs. He was a unanimous all-state performer.